DGCA's new rules for specially-abled passengers

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DGCA's new rules for specially-abled passengers

  • Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) amended its rules on carriage of disabled passengers.

What does the new DGCA regulation say?

  • Airlines cannot deny boarding to specially-abled people without seeking medical opinion of a doctor at the airport on a passenger’s fitness to fly.
  • DGCA has amended its regulations to improve accessibility of boarding and flying for specially-abled.
  • New Civil Aviation Requirement (CAR) mandates that if an airline denies boarding after getting medical opinion, it will have to immediately inform the passenger in writing and mention the reasonse.

What were the old rules?

  • Airlines could deny boarding to any person on basis of disability if it opined that “transportation of such persons would or might be inimical to the safety of flight”.
  • Airlines were bound to specify in writing the basis of such refusal.

Why were the rules amended?

  • In May 2022, IndiGo airlines disallowed a specially-abled child from boarding its flight citing potential threat to air safety.
  • DGCA conducted an investigation and imposed fine of Rs 5 lakh on the airline.
  • To avoid such situations in future, DGCA has amended the rule.


  • Many have termed the requirement of doctors’ opinion to permit specially abled to fly as an insult to injury as it conflated disability and ill-health.
  • DGCA’s rule penalises those who are atypical in appearance, communication or behavioural expression by requiring additional screening.
  • These screenings are done by average laypersons or medical professionals who are not exposed or sensitised to disability.
  • Fitness certificate is discriminatory as they target people with disability as no such requirement is imposed on general population.
  • Social activists believe that revised rules underlined lack of trust toward disabled people.

Prelims take away

  • Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA)